“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” Hebrews 12:1-2
Faith is a very broad word – ask ten people to define it and you will most likely get ten different answers. The Bible gives us examples of people who excelled in their faith; we read the stories and hope that if the heat were on, we would respond “faithfully”. Abraham obeyed God and took Isaac up the mountain in the faith that God had a better plan than what he saw. His wife Sarah did the opposite and took things into her own hands when she didn’t believe God’s promise that He would provide a son for them. It was a miserable failure. We give a nod to Abraham and shake our heads at Sarah. Hopefully, in times of testing or difficulty, we would be an Abraham.
But so often, we don’t feel any faith. We feel doubt or outright disbelief. So we try a bit harder. The cycle continues of wanting something, trying to believe for it and feeling disappointed when it doesn’t happen. It’s a bad cycle, and it’s one the enemy loves to engage us in because it hardens us toward God and makes us turn from Him.
The Bible tells us that “without faith, it is impossible to please God “(Hebrews 11:6). That verse never made me feel very encouraged – it seems to only add to the burden my already lacking faith. I would think to myself, ‘well, terrific, I have no faith and now God isn’t too happy with me either.’ Another trick the enemy uses to totally discourage us. It’s so important that we understand what the Bible says about faith and not believe what the world tells us.
The world and even many well-meaning Christians will tell us that if we change our thinking, make it more positive and less negative, the faith just might come. Sometimes it works, and other times it fails. We accept the futility of trying to figure it out and resign ourselves to the fact that you just never know for sure what God is up to, but you hope it works out for your good. We are taught to be go-getters. It’s kind of the American way – work at it, and you will succeed. Super if you’re building a business, not so great however, to be spiritually independent from God. So we are told to think positive thoughts. The feel-good gospel preachers assure us that if we would just buck up and be positive, things are bound to get better. Positive thinking is great, but we are all eventually faced with real questions and dilemmas that can’t be solved with just happy thoughts. We learn the hard way that we cannot conjure up faith on our own.
The Bible tells us explicitly that faith is from God, it is a gift from Him that no man can obtain on his own. It tells us in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. This was such a revelation to me! If He is the Author, it means that He creates it. It originates with Him. He is able then to give it to me. Mark 11:22 says to “have faith in God” which is literally translated, “have the faith OF God.” When it’s His faith that we are receiving, it cannot fail! Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word (Romans 10:17). God reveals His will to us through His Word and gives us the faith to believe it. He is also the Finisher of our faith, meaning He will see it to completion. What He begins He will finish. Like writing a book with many chapters, He takes us along the journey until what He promised has become a reality. It isn’t a vague hope that something might happen. It isn’t wishing on a star or taking a big, blind leap into a situation. The Word says that faith comes from God Himself. It is given to us and thus received by us.
I’m learning that God never teaches us things just in theory only. He is going to put it to the test because He wants us to grasp the truth of what He is saying in our hearts and not just our heads. So a few weekends ago, we came to Him with a question. It was a question about moving to a new house. There were a hundred reasons to stay put and a hundred reasons to move. We needed help and could not do this on our own. We went to God in prayer asking for it to be made clear. Through the course of the weekend, we received some major signs pointing in the direction of moving. It was nothing that we sought out, but things just sort of appeared that were too big to ignore. We received confirmation in the Word that this was what we needed to do. Not a week later, things had turned. A random series of events had put the house back out on the market and it was not looking good for us. Everything pointed to this deal not going through. I lost my mind for about an hour, playing right into the lies the enemy was whispering in my ear, “God didn’t really reveal anything to you,” “you didn’t hear right,” “time to go find a plan B”… etc. Then Peter asked me if I really thought what we heard was true and from God. Yes. We realized we were going to have to pray this one through and call on Jesus to be the FINISHER of our faith. There was no way, looking at the circumstances, that we could believe this was going to work out. If you have received faith for something, He promises to see it to completion. It’s not a formula to figure out, we simply need to go on what we have already received. We were given the faith to believe that this house is where we were supposed to be. We were able to come boldly before Him and ask for Him to finish this out because we knew it was His will for us.
This is way more than hope. When we allow Him to be the Author and the Finisher of our faith, we are in for an adventure. It starts out small, when we go with an open heart and a question that needs resolving. He gives us things along the way, a sign or a Word that encourages us. He authors the entire journey and our job is to keep receiving what He has for us in the knowledge that He is going to perfectly finish it.
I learned the past two weeks that God wants to be clear. He isn’t about confusing us, or making us guess what He is up to. His heart is to point us in the right direction and actually guide us all the way from start to finish. I also learned that it’s actually FUN to not stress out over a situation that is so totally beyond my control! Receiving the truth and the faith of God – SO much better than just thinking positive thoughts!!!